Kuwaitis Mark “Day 1,000” in Guatanamo Captivity Without Legal Rights or Visitation
Families Ask to Have Their Sons, Husbands and Brothers
Charged and Tried – Or Set Free
Kuwait City, October 7, 2004 – Today marks the 1,000th day in captivity for 12 Kuwaiti prisoners who have been held without being charged in a U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The imprisonment is in violation of three U.S. Supreme Court decisions that, in June 2004, ordered the Bush administration to either charge the men with a crime or set them free.
All of the Kuwaitis have been held in isolation without legal representation or visits from friends or family since they were taken prisoner in the Middle East and flown to Guantanamo in 2002. To date, none has been charged with any crime or given their rights under due process of U.S. law, despite the Supreme Court decisions earlier this year that reaffirmed their right to trial, their right to habeas corpus, and their right to legally challenge their detention.
The imprisonment has been decried by political and social leaders throughout the world, from Tony Blair to Desmond Tutu. In the United States, liberals and conservatives alike have expressed dire concern that the flagrant violation of the rights of these people contradicts and imperils basic principles of American justice.
“This injustice has now reached the sad but important milestone of 1,000 days. At this point in time, we ask again that the U.S. government honor the basic human rights of the detainees and apply the rule of law,” said Khalid al-Odah, father of detainee Fawzi Al-Odah and head of the Kuwaiti Family Committee, an organization formed nearly two years ago by relatives of the detainees to advocate for their just treatment under the U.S. judicial system.
“These prisoners are human beings,” said al-Odah. “They are sons, husbands, brothers, and fathers who haven’t seen their loved ones in three years. Either charge them with a crime or set them free.”
In addition to Fawzi Al-Odah, who is a teacher, other Kuwaiti detainees include an accountant, a commercial airline engineer with Kuwaiti Airlines, an agronomist with the Kuwaiti government’s Ministry of Social Affairs, and an officer in the Kuwaiti army. While working or traveling in Pakistan and Afghanistan – in all cases, to discharge charitable obligations demanded by their religion – the men were captured and sold for bounty by tribesmen to Pakistani soldiers. The price was $200 a head.
U.S. Defense Department officials have acknowledged that the Kuwaitis and at least one-third of the detainees at Guantanamo are innocent. Earlier this week, Archbishop Desmond Tutu branded the Guantanamo Bay prison camp a “disgrace,” comparing it to the legal situation that supported detention camps during South Africa’s apartheid system. The Nobel Prize winner said that, in democracies, the rule of law must apply to all people.
The Kuwaiti Family Committee is committed to attaining justice for the detainees. The group was heartened by the announcement in mid-September by Secretary of State Colin Powell that one of the detainees will soon be released to the custody of Kuwait. So far, however, the U.S. government has not identified that individual or committed to a date for his release.
“For the sake of the mothers and fathers and other family members who await the resolution of the detainees’ plight, we must continue making our case to the administration and to the American people until justice is served and the rule of law is restored,” Al-Odah said. “Until then, we cannot rest.”
Marking the 1,000th day captivity of their son, Fawzi, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are Khalid Al-Odah (at right), his wife Souad (seated in middle) and their children, in their Kuwait City home. Khalid is head of the Kuwaiti Family Committee, an organization formed by relatives of 12 Kuwaiti detainees now being held without representation at the Guantanamo detention camp. The group is asking the Bush administration to either charge the detainees under U.S. law or set them free. (PRNewsFoto)[AG]
This press release is distributed by Levick Strategic Communications on behalf of the International Counsel Bureau. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
Kuwaiti Family Committee Contact:
Tel. (Kuwait) 011-965-905-6115
U.S. News Media Coordinator